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Four Myths About Septic Tanks And The Truths Behind Them

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Septic tanks are an essential part of the modern sewer system, and without them the current way of life for a majority of Americans would not be possible. Septic tanks can be quite fragile, and consequently, it is essential to understand how they operate. Comprehending the nuances and technicalities of a septic tank can help to ensure the functionality and sustainability of an entire septic system. This article will answer four important questions about septic tanks that all home owners should know but most do not. 

What can be flushed down the drain?

It is important to remember that what goes down the drain or the toilet has to come back up the septic system and into the drain field. If, for example, hazardous waste or chemicals are poured down the drain or flushed down the toilet, they can come back up and be extraordinarily harmful to both household members and the environment by causing illness and substantial property damage. Further, chemicals can actually kill much of the harmful bacteria within a septic system that it relies on to properly function.

To what extent can garbage disposals be used to eliminate food waste?

While it may be true that garbage disposals can eliminate potential food waste, they increase the amount of solid waste that is put into a septic tank that needs to be decomposed. Overuse or heavy reliance on the garbage disposal, will harm and potentially break a septic system by clogging and overworking the system.

How frequently should a septic tank be replaced?

The average lifetime of a septic tank is between 20-30 years. With proper treatment and maintenance, it is certainly possible to stretch that lifetime even longer. However, without taking care of a septic tank, it is also possible that it can be ruined in only one year. Most septic tanks require annual maintenance and inspection with a pump out needed every  1-3 years. Regular maintenance of a septic tank can help to ensure that it surpasses the 30 year mark.

Does bacteria need to be added to a septic tank?

Perhaps counter-intuitively, bacteria additives are crucial to maintaining a healthy septic tank. Today, with the high volume of anti-bacterial cleaners and chemicals being used around the house killing septic tank bacteria, tanks have a harder time breaking down solid waste. Bacteria is crucial to solid waste breakdown and the sustainability of a septic system. It is important to note that bacteria additives do not replace the need for a regular pump out of a septic system. They simply supplement it.

By understanding the answers to these four key questions, homeowners can maximize the longevity and functionality of their septic systems. Contact a local service, like Southwest Environmental, with any questions or concerns.